Celebrating Female Artists of Burnside

Published on 03 December 2018

BLACK the bridge.PNG

With Rhana Devenport recently taking the reins of the Art Gallery of South Australia, it’s timely to reflect on the female artists who have lived and worked in the Burnside area. The three women discussed here have each influenced Australian art in a different way, and provide a snapshot of life in Burnside at different times.


Fanny de Mole: b 1835, d 1861.

de Mole arrived in South Australia aboard the Albermarle in 1856, after the death of her father in England. She published the first book illustrating the flora of South Australia under the name “F. E de Mole” – disguising her gender from readers. Fanny was 26 when the book was published, and her paintings were exhibited at the annual exhibitions of the South Australian Society. Her illustrations were sent to London to be printed, then hand coloured by Fanny in Australia. Her illustration of the Sturt Desert Pea (swainsona formosa in Latin, or malu kuru in Pitjantjatjara) is vivid and textured, and her work paved the way for other botanical artists in South Australia. She lived with her family at ‘The Waldrons’ – the property is now demolished but remains of the stone boundary wall exist along Glynburn Road and Young Street – and died of tuberculosis at the age of 31.

Fanny de Mole, 1865  de Mole - Sturt Desert Pea.jpg

Left: de Mole, National Library of Australia, vn2228360. Right: Sturt Desert Pea Illustration, 1861 [SLSA, B1293469]

Marjorie Hann, OAM: b 1916, d 2011.

Hann’s career spanned many decades and spheres: she was a painter, teacher, author, journalist, art critic, illustrator and draftsperson. Educated at Presbyterian Girls College (now Seymour College), Hann exhibited many times with the Pepper Street Arts Centre and was made an Honorary Life Member of the Burnside Painting Group. Hann worked in commercial art, illustrating advertising for several Adelaide companies, and drafting technical drawings for Holden at Woodville. Hann wrote and illustrated several children’s books, including the strip The Adventures of Charlie Cheesecake with Bob Fricker of 5AD. Hann is well known for her work as an art instructor, teaching both at the Workers’ Education Association (WEA) and Kensington and Norwood TAFE, travelled to regional Australia extensively to teach art. Hann staged multiple, successful exhibitions of her own at the Royal South Australian Society of the Arts, the Lombard Art Gallery for the Adelaide Fringe and the Adelaide Art Society. A contemporary of Robert Hannaford, Max Ragless and others, Hann made an immense contribution to the artistic life of Burnside and South Australia.

 HANNtomwuelzerfamily1956.jpg   HANN Inman Estuary Victor Harbor.Jpeg


 Left: Hann and her young family, approx 1956.  Source: Rod Parham. Right: The Inman Estuary Victor Harbour, Marjorie Hann, watercolour.

Dorrit Black. b 1891, d 1951.

Black is one of Australia’s most highly credential modern artists. Born and raised in Burnside, she studied at the South Australian School of Arts and Crafts and the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London. Modernism was not always popular, but Black continued to paint, exhibit and teach modernist art principles throughout her life. She painted from her house in Magill, painted landscapes of the Adelaide Hills, taught at the School of Arts and Crafts, was on the committee of the Royal South Australian Society of Arts in 1938, vice chair of the Contemporary Art Society of South Australia and was an active member of the Australian Labor Party. She worked across mediums – watercolour, oil, still life, portraiture and landscapes, and in 2014, the Art Gallery of South Australia held an exhibition that fully explored her impact on Australian Art.

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Left: family archival portrait of Dorrit Black, via Sydney Morning Herald. Right: Coast Road, 1942., Dorrit Black, oil on board.

Words by Laura Evans, Historical and Cultural Officer, City of Burnside.


Art Gallery of South Australia: Dorrit Black: Unseen Forces, 2014. <https://www.artgallery.sa.gov.au/agsa/home/Exhibitions/Past_Exhibitions/2014/Dorrit_Black.html>

Australian Dictionary of Biography: Black, Dorothea Foster (Dorrit). <http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/black-dorothea-foster-dorrit-5249>

Hannaford, Robert, Interview with Marjorie Hann, 2007. <http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/archivaldocs/oh/OH810.pdf >

Caroline Simpson Library and Research Collections: Wild flowers of South Australia. <http://collection.hht.net.au/firsthhtpictures/fullRecord.jsp?recno=27498>

Australian National Herbarium: de Mole, Fanny Elizabeth. <https://www.anbg.gov.au/biography/mole-fanny.html>